Archive for January, 2012

Apple: School textbooks now on iPad

Will those textbooks you lugged around throughout middle and high school become a thing of the past? The maker of the iPad, iPhone, and everything else “i” hopes so.

Apple Inc. launched its iBooks 2 app Thursday, making thousands of textbooks available on its iPad. The textbooks will be priced no more than $14.99, according to the Associated Press, quoting Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller.

Apple has been working with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Pearson PLC and McGraw-Hill – publishers responsible for 90 percent of U.S. textbooks – to develop digital textbooks that can be offered on the iPad. The digital textbook market is estimated at $8 billion, and Amazon and others are already tapping into it.

Schiller says education is in “the dark ages” when it comes to instructional material. He said there are already 1.5 million iPads used in education.

“You’ll see textbooks for every subject for every level,” Schiller said.  Yet, even Apple faces a challenge, AP …

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Georgia’s jobless rate falls for third consecutive month

Georgia’s unemployment rate fell for the third straight month in December — dropping to 9.7 percent from a revised 9.8 percent in November, the state labor department said Thursday.

It’s the largest two-month decrease in unemployment since 1977, the labor department said.

A year ago, the jobless rate stood at 10.4 percent.

“This is great news for our state, particularly for Georgians who have faced a tough job market for several years now,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in a statement.

Still, Georgia’s rate remains considerably higher than the nation’s, which has dropped to 8.5 percent.

“The rate declined because 11,500 Georgians went back to work in December,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement.

He said there were “some increases in employment in areas that have been especially hard hit.”

There were 600 new construction jobs in December, the first time construction has gained jobs in December since 2003. Manufacturing grew by 400 jobs, the first …

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Paula Deen a vegan? Group says, ‘Try it!’

The medical profession is stepping up to the plate and offering TV chef Paula Deen a way to reverse her type 2 diabetes with a new weapon: A vegan diet.

In an open letter to Deen posted on the group’s website, Susan Levin of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine also takes a swipe at reports that Deen has an endorsement deal for a diabetes drug.

Levin makes an impassioned plea for the TV chef to ditch her artery-clogging dishes for a diet free of animal products. Not only will Deen reverse her diabetes, her pounds will “melt away,” Levin says. Touting the group’s “21-Day Vegan Kickstart”  program, Levin says the chef doesn’t have to balk at the absence of meat and cheese.

“Many people who switch to a plant-based diet report a newfound love for food—they feel it encourages them to experiment more and be more creative in the kitchen…. This way of eating is so healthful and so low in fat that you don’t need to worry about counting …

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Americans keeping their clunkers longer

Here’s further proof of the toll the rotten economy is having on consumer spending habits.

In 2011, the average age of a vehicle in the U.S.  hit 10.8 years _ a record.

That’s up from 10.6 years for the average car or truck in 2010, and more than two years older than the average U.S. vehicle age back in 1995 when it was 8.4 years.

All is not gloom, however, according to a report from the Associated Press in Huffington Post.

An executive with the automotive research firm Polk said an expected uptick in vehicle sales this year, following last year’s rebound, should at lease slow the increase in the average age of cars and trucks in America.

But, he said, it will take several years of a strong economy to boost sales enough to reverse the trend and cause the average age to decline.

Auto sales reached 12.8 million units last year, hardly the glory days of 2005 when they hit 17 million, and still shy of the 16 million mark that’s considered the industry norm. Still, that was better …

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Burger King testing home delivery

Burger King wants you to have it your way in the comfort of your own home.

Last fall, the No. 2 burger chain quietly began testing home delivery of its burgers, fries and other sandwiches at four restaurants in the greater Washington, D.C.  area.

But will home delivery catch on for the burger behemoths as it has for the pizza peddlers? Industry watchers say they’ll first have to change consumer perceptions about fast food quality once it travels.  How do you get around fears of limp fries and bland burgers that folks fear go hand-in-hand with home delivery?

Well, Burger King has obviously thought about those fears. The company has developed a “proprietary thermal packaging technology,” according to a spokesman,  which ensures the Whopper is delivered hot and fresh, and the french fries are delivered hot and crispy,” he said.

In the case of the test market, there’s a $2 delivery fee and minimum orders vary from $8 to $10. The stores try to deliver within 30 minutes and …

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How the rich (the 1 percent) live

They work  long hours.

They pay their share of taxes and are willing to do more to contribute.

They’re more likely to be self-employed.

They give to charity.

Some like President Obama and some don’t. Some sympathize with the Occupy Wall Street crowd while others don’t.

All in all, it’s a broad cross-section, the nation’s wealthiest 1 percent, according to a report in The New York Times.

Which makes it a little harder to pigeon-hole a group that’s  attracted a lot of attention, and drawn a considerable amount of criticism in this political season where the middle class has been designated as the hero.

One key point is that what can be considered wealthy varies a good deal by geography. A person in a smaller, low-cost part of the country can easily be in the top 1 percent in an area with a much smaller income than someone in a higher-priced metropolitan area.

The gap between the richest residents and everyone else also varies by market. While the highest-earning 1 percent in …

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TSA: Don’t forget your pocket change at Hartsfield-Jackson

Travelers making their way through security at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport have left behind more than $16,000 in those trays that hold your pocket change, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

NBC reports that travelers left a total of $409,085.56 in loose change after clearing TSA security checkpoints at airports across the country in 2010.

Hartsfield-Jackson ranked No. 3 with $16,523.83 collected, compared with $46,918.06 left at John F. Kennedy International in New York, which ranked No. 1, and $19,110.83 left at Los Angeles International Airport, which ranked No. 2.

The change, in addition to foreign currency, is usually thrown into a jar and counted at the end of the day, a spokeswoman told NBC. The money, which amounted to $399,000 in 2009 and $364,000 a year earlier, is sent to the TSA for its general operating budget, spokeswoman Nico Melendez said

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America: land of the downwardly mobile

Used to be America was the place where parents wanted the best for their children, and usually saw them get it.

No matter how well you did, they did better.

It’s called upward mobility.

Lately, there’s been lots of talk that this trend is coming to an end, owing to the recession and other factors.

Turns out that a good number of Americans were downwardly mobile long before the latest downturn. You can go back to the ’60s in fact.

According to a new study from Pew, which did something called the Economic Mobility Project,” almost one in three people who were born and raised middle class in the U.S. in the early to mid-1960s fell in economic status when researchers checked back in on them four decades later.

It’s important to note that they fell before the recession kicked in.

Essentially, those people grew up in families earning what was considered middle class for the time, about $33,000 to $64,000 in 1979.

Now, they’d have to earn an inflation-adjusted $54,000 to $111,000 to …

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Is a Delta-American merger a plus?

For nearly 20 years, Delta Air Lines touted, “Delta is ready when you are.”

The question on the minds of travelers and Delta employees alike on Thursday was, “Is Delta ready to buy rival American?”

Wall Street thinks so. Delta’s shares got a boost Thursday from the buzz. But Delta isn’t talking, at least publicly, and nor is AMR, the parent of Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines.

Atlanta-based Delta already faces more competition from Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, which acquired AirtTran Airways last year and gained a foothold into Delta’s backyard at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the busiest in the country. Delta is the largest carrier serving Hartsfield-Jackson, and Southwest will replace AirTran as Delta’s chief rival in Atlanta. Southwest is expected to launch 15 daily flights from Hartsfield-Jackson to five cities beginning next month

Do you think a Delta-American merger will be a plus for travelers? Will further consolidation …

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Pepsi paying $3.1M in EEOC case

It’s not uncommon for companies to conduct criminal background checks on job applicants, but a settlement between Pepsi Beverages and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a reminder that not using the checks legally may be costly.

Pepsi has agreed to pay $3.1 million to settle federal charges that it discriminated against job applicants by using criminal background checks to screen them out even if they had not been convicted of a crime, or had been convicted of minor offenses.

The EEOC, as reported by the Associated Press, said the screenings disproportionately excluded more than 300 blacks and Hispanics from vying for jobs. The complaints against Pepsi first surfaced in 2006, and the company said it has been working with the EEOC since then to revise its hiring policies.

From the AP:

Using arrest and conviction records to deny employment can be illegal if it’s irrelevant for the job, according to the EEOC, which enforces the nation’s employment …

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